• Our hope-filled future is bound up in sharing the story of Jesus, in discipling others, in bringing those disciples together into communities of believers, and in developing and releasing those believers to create other communities... till Jesus the King comes again!

Nationals do it better

Some of us remember this statement from many years ago.  However, it has lost none of its relevance and importance to the work of multiplying disciples and communities of believers.

Nationals do it better” is meant to focus our eyes on the ‘end’ as well as the process of ministry. prayerart0508_01

The ‘end’ to which cross cultural ministry is directed is a movement of multiplication across a people group. The most fruitful or effective way for this to happen is when national believers take responsibility for the ministry.  One researcher noted that no long term church planting movement has ever been launched or carried out by expat workers.  If that is the case, then more effort needs to be made in investing in others.

Investing in others, particularly nationals, runs into a number of potential hindrances.

First, the hindrance of short term fruit versus long term fruit.  The work of ‘investing in’ others is long term.  You will not see the fruit or results of working to help others grow in Christ in a short period of time. This is why we often prefer to do the ministry ourselves.  Fruit comes more quickly, but may not be the long term fruit needed to see a ministry multiply in the long term.

Second, the hindrance of a limited view of the Spirit’s work in the lives of others.  How many times have we thought our efforts wasted when no discernible fruit was seen in the lives of those we discipled?  Yet, at a much later point that effort finally yielded more fruit than we thought possible. Our efforts were not in vain (1 Corinthians 15), the Spirit applied the truths of Scripture at His appointed time, and we learned that these national believers did a better job of sharing those same truths with others.

Finally, the hindrance of wrongly attributed glory.  We can be unaware of how often the ministry centres on us.  If we listen to our conversations (or read our prayer letters), it is uncanny how often we talk about ‘my ministry’ or ‘the church I am leading’ or ‘the small group I started’.  The glory is being attributed to the wrong person. God seeks for ‘all the saints’ to be participating and ministering in this temple He calls the Church. The glory goes to him as we give away the ministry to those we serve.

Nationals do it better” means we look long term, we trust the Spirit, and we decide that “whether we eat or drink, or whatever we do, we do all to the glory of God.”  (1 Corinthians 10:31)

2 Responses

  1. I am curious what you think about this in regards to nationals from outside the people group. The church in our neighborhood is pastored by a national, but from a different region in Cameroon. He is definitely seen as an outsider and is culturally very different. In which category do you think he should consider himself: national or outsider?

    • Tough question. If we go with Paul Hiebert’s approach, anyone from ‘outside’ that people group would be an ‘outsider’ and would need to empower a ‘national’, someone from within that people group, to do the ministry long term. Certainly, there may be some secondary points of contact between two Cameroonians from different parts of the country. However, I would also assume that they might have two different worldviews or ways of seeing life.

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